SVCreates Content Emerging Artist 2023
In an unassuming suburban garage in South San Jose, a music studio is tucked in parallel to a parked car, storage totes, and hanging bicycles. Often, you can find a poet getting active in the studio, chipping away at refining his craft, hoping to carve Corinthian columns from a career in acting and music. This creative headquarters is home to Davied Morales, AKA Activepoet.
Davied Morales is a San Jose–born actor and rapper who has worked for numerous Bay Area theater companies, appeared in television shows, commercials, and various short films, and amassed tens of thousands of followers across social media. The COVID-19 pandemic allowed Davied to focus on the “why” behind his work. He explains, “I was able to learn more about the business and understand why I want to do this work. I want to inspire people who look like me, and let people know that they can do it too.”
Raised by a single mother after his father’s untimely passing, Davied had to grow up quickly at a young age. He notes, “I know what a bad day looks like. I always try to be extra positive because I know life’s hard.” His work’s light-hearted joy and humor can be traced back to the shows he watched as a kid. He observes, “Shows like Kenan and Kel were huge for me. They represented a space for being goofy on TV. I loved it because there wasn’t as much violence or the huge political problems you see in our community. We’re always getting killed on TV. We can be anything we want, so why can’t people of color just have friends and tell cool stories about what we can do?”
“Everyone deserves to be creative. Creativity is a fundamental truth for all of us. We say in our work that fish swim, birds fly, and human beings create. That’s what we do.”
Along with manifesting positivity through his craft, Davied also works as an improv facilitator for San Jose’s Red Ladder Theatre Company, a social justice company with whom he leads workshops for men and women experiencing incarceration. When talking about his work in California prisons, Davied adds, “Everyone deserves to be creative. Creativity is a fundamental truth for all of us. We say in our work that fish swim, birds fly, and human beings create. That’s what we do. The best feedback we’ve received was from an attendee who said that for two hours, it felt like they weren’t in prison. I want our participants to know they’re still in touch with their childhood selves. There are bright spots in this world, and I want them to see that.” Moving forward, Davied is developing a catalog of music and content focused on sustainable production and consistency that fans of his work can rely on. The work he puts in now is meant to create an infrastructure that will support more extensive projects in the future. You can follow Activepoet on all platforms for valuable information, a behind-the-scenes look at the industry, and something to make you laugh. Davied Morales continues to prioritize art in his life and wants to make art a priority in the Bay Area.
SVCreates Content Emerging Artist 2023
A wheat-pasted poster on a San Francisco sidewalk may be commonplace for 99 percent of passersby. For photographer Dan Fenstermacher, the details caught his eye from across the street: an ambiguous lower body clothed in shorts and walking shoes—leg tattoos exposed—standing on a trail with marketing copy that read “on the path to zero impact.” Dan also noticed a burly, shirtless man thirty feet away walking towards the poster; he had patchy body hair on his chest that shared an uncanny resemblance to a smiley face. Dan hurried across the street to catch the convergence of the two. The photo he captured juxtaposes a hipster on a hike with a shirtless man on a city street—both of whom are uniquely getting in touch with nature—and puts a humorous spin on the sustainability marketing technique of showing people experiencing the outdoors. The composition plays with body level, placing the lower body on the poster in line with the man’s upper half. While any similarity between those two figures could be viewed as an abstract coincidence, Dan sees potential in layering and capturing dissimilar details with eye-catching composition to create something new, authentic, and often funny.
Dan Fenstermacher is a burgeoning photographer with internationally recognized work. He’s also a professor and chair of the West Valley College photography program, a contributor to The San Francisco Standard, and a volunteer photographer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Dan’s projects blend street photography and photojournalism with clever juxtaposition; his photos are most known for their vibrant colors, use of flash, and humorous composition.
Originally from Seattle, Washington, Dan obtained a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Idaho before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in marketing. While there, he realized that advertising has less to do with creative ad concepts and more with market research, data analysis, and spreadsheets. Dan recalls, “I hated it. I started taking photography classes at night through a local community college while doing those advertising jobs. I had a roommate at the time who went off to Korea to teach English, so I figured I could do the same thing.” Dan went on to use his community college photo credits to teach fine art in China, aided by student translators. Later, he enrolled in a graduate photography program at San Jose State University.
“Traveling makes me feel alive. When you experience a new culture, it’s like getting to experience life again for the first time.”
Dan’s photography is rooted in detail and captures reality at the core of often misunderstood situations. “I have always been an observer,” he says. “I tend to notice things that most people wouldn’t consider. I like to combine street photography with journalistic documentary themes.” Each of Dan’s projects captures a range of topics and manages to juxtapose conception with reality. His project documenting seniors in Costa Rica contrasts American society’s fear of aging with the joy and experience seen on the faces of the elderly. His “Streets to the Dirt” project documents Black cowboys in Richmond, California, and shows that cowboys are not just White men in movies. Dan continues to broaden his photo expeditions, explaining that “traveling makes me feel alive. When you experience a new culture, it’s like getting to experience life again for the first time.” Dan’s career as a photography professor allows him to embrace his passion while surrounded by inspiring up-and-coming student artists. Dan aligns his trips with his school schedule and plans to travel to Guadalajara, Mexico, to document mariachi culture. His next goal is to produce his first self-published photo book.
Dalia Rawson is the South Bay’s authority on all things ballet. A longtime performer with the now-defunct Cleveland San Jose Ballet Company, the Saratoga native has performed for numerous companies in addition to holding backstage management positions with the Silicon Valley Ballet. With the closure of that company, Rawson founded The New Ballet School in March of this year. Less than a year later, the school has grown to over 300 students and is the only school on the West Coast that’s been certified by the American Ballet Theatre. The New Ballet School’s first production this winter, featuring Rawson’s choreography, will be a San Jose–inspired rendition of The Nutcracker
“It’s been since 2006 that I last danced professionally. Of course, I miss it, but the career doesn’t last forever. I was just really lucky to work with people I looked up to. It’s been 11 years now, but I certainly get a lot of joy and inspiration from teaching young people and working as a choreographer and director. Our newest production is the San Jose Nutcracker, which tells the classic story with local inspiration. Set in the city around 1905, it will feature a glowing replica of the historic San Jose Electric Light Tower, as well as the historic skyline. It’s something I’m really excited about.”